JAC Board Class 8th Social Science Notes Civics Chapter 1 The Indian Constitution
→ In large societies in which different communities of people live together, these rules are formulated through consensus and in modem countries this consensus is usually available in written form. A written document in which we find the rules is called a Constitution.
→ Why Does a Country Need a Constitution?
- The Constitution serves several purposes. First, it lays out certain ideals that form the basis of the kind of country that we as citizens aspire to live in. Or, a Constitution tells us what the fundamental nature of our society is.
- A Constitution helps serve as a set of rules and principles that all persons in a country can agree upon as the basis of the way in which they want the country to be governed.
- This includes not only the type of government but also an agreement on certain ideals that they all believe the country should uphold.
- In 2006 the people of Nepal finally succeeded in putting an end to the powers of the King. The people had to write a new Constitution to establish Nepal as
a democracy. The reason that they did not want to continue with the previous Constitution is because it did not reflect the ideals of the country that they want Nepal to be and that they have fought for.
- The people of Nepal adopted a new Constitution for the country in 2015.
- The second important purpose of a Constitution is to define the nature of a country’s political system.
- The Constitution plays a crucial role in laying out certain important guidelines that govern decision making within these societies.
→ In a democracy, we choose our leaders so that they can exercise power responsibly on behalf of common people.
- However, there is always the possibility that these leaders might misuse their authority and the Constitution usually provides safeguards against this.
- In democratic societies, the Constitution often lays down rules that guard against the misuse of authority by our political leaders.
- The Right to Equality is one of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.
- Another important function that a Constitution plays in a democracy is to make sure that a dominant group does not use its power against other, less powerful people or groups.
- The Constitution usually contains rules that ensure that minorities are not excluded from anything that is routinely available to the majority.
- Another reason why we have a Constitution is precisely to prevent this tyranny or domination by the majority of a minority.
- The third significant reason why we need a Constitution is to save us from ourselves.
- The Constitution helps to protect us against certain decisions that we might take that could have an adverse effect on the larger principles that the country believes in.
→ The Indian Constitution: Key Features
- By the beginning of the twentieth century, the Indian national movement had been active in the struggle for independence from British rule for several decades.
- During the freedom struggle the nationalists had devoted a great deal of time to imagining and planning what a free India would be like.
- The leaders work was to work out the ways in which a democratic government would be set up in India and the rules that would determine its functioning.
- • This was done not by one person but by a group of around 300 people who became members of the Constituent Assembly in 1946 and who met periodically for the next three years to write India’s Constitution.
- When the Constitution was being written, India was going through considerable turmoil. The partition of the country into India and Pakistan was imminent, some of the Princely States remained undecided about their future, and the socio-economic condition of the vast mass of people appeared dismal.
- The final document also reflects its concern for eradicating poverty through socio-economic reforms as well as emphasising the crucial role the people can play in choosing their representatives.
→ The key features of the Indian Constitution are given below:
- Parliamentary Form of Government
- Separation of Powers
- Fundamental Rights
- This refers to the existence of more than one level of government in the country. In India, we have governments at the state level and at the centre. Panchayati Raj is the third tier of government.
- The vast number of communities in India meant that a system of government needed to be devised that did not involve only persons sitting in the capital city of New Delhi and making decisions for everyone.
- It was important to have another level of government in the states so that decisions could be made for that particular area.
- While each state in India enjoys autonomy in exercising powers on certain issues, subjects of national concern require that all of these states follow the laws of the central government.
- Under federalism, the states are not merely agents of the federal government but draw their authority from the Constitution as well. All persons in India are governed by laws and policies made by each of these levels of government.
→ Parliamentary Form of Government:
- The different tiers of government consist of representatives who are elected by the people.
- The Constitution of India guarantees universal adult suffrage for all citizens.
- The people of India have a direct role in electing their representatives.
- Every citizen of the country, irrespective of his/her social background, can also contest in elections. These representatives are accountable to the people.
→ Separation of Powers:
- According to the Constitution, there are three organs of government. They are the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.
- The legislature refers to our elected representatives.
- The executive is a smaller group of people who are responsible for implementing laws and running the government.
- The judiciary refers to the system of courts in this country.
- In order to prevent the misuse of power by any one branch of government, the Constitution says that each of these organs . should exercise different powers.
→ Fundamental Rights:
- The section on Fundamental Rights has often been referred to as the ‘conscience’ of the Indian Constitution.
- Fundamental Rights protect citizens against the arbitrary and absolute exercise of power by the State.
- The Constitution guarantees the rights of individuals against the State as well as against other individuals.
- The Constitution also guarantees the rights of minorities against the majority.
- As Dr Ambedkar has said about these Fundamental Rights, their object is two-fold.
- The first objective is that every citizen must be in a position to claim those rights.
- Secondly, these rights must be binding upon every authority that has got the power to make laws.
- The Constitution also has a section called Directive Principles of State Policy.
- This section was designed by the members of the Constituent Assembly to ensure greater social and economic reforms and to serve as a guide to the independent Indian State to institute laws and policies that help reduce the poverty of the masses.
A secular state is one in which the state does not officially promote any one religion as the state religion.